US Iraq War Death Toll Reaches 4,000

All hell broke loose again in Iraq on Sunday, with political violence killing nearly 60 persons according to official statistics.

A roadside bomb killed 4 US troops, bringing the total dead in Iraq on the American side to 4,000. The think I most mind about the deaths of those brave warriors is that our government has not been honest about why they died. We don't know the answer to that question. We've been lied to.

The Bush administration still has not told us why they died. It was not to protect the US from "weapons of mass destruction" (see below; that was a fabricated cover story). It was not to spread democracy. It may have been to nail down a major petroleum-producing country for US geostrategic goals (ensuring its resources were available to the US and could be denied if necessary to growing rivals such as China). If so, one has to ask whether the objectives (which were hidden from the American people) were the top priority for the US, or only for the petroleum industry; whether those objectives have been achieved; and whether there was another way to attain them. No such debate has ever been held. Was it in part to ensure Israeli security, as Mearsheimer and Walt argue (and Craig Unger implicitly argues, below)? If so, that should be stated, it should be debated. Even the former head of Shin Bet did not agree that it increased Israel's security. It is not right to ask men and women under arms to die for their country without telling them exactly how they are benefiting their country. For all we know, they have died so that Bush and Cheney could throw goodies to their "base," so that Halliburton could escape bankruptcy and Hunt Oil could get new development contracts.

The Green Zone was subjected to repeated mortar and rocket attacks on Sunday, which killed 1 American and 4 others inside, and at least a dozen on its edges (because those firing them were bad shots). The Green Zone is where the US Embassy and major Iraqi government buildings are. It had been a little safer recently, or at least the Pentagon was peddling that line to CNN during last week's commemoration of the 5th anniversary of the war (see the CNN piece below). It is a measure of how the war objectives keep being defined down, that for the Green Zone to be relatively safe was trumpeted as an accomplishment. The "green zone" was always supposed to be safe, since it was heavily guarded and surrounded by blast walls. I take it that the US ceasefire with the Mahdi Army has actually broken down, in part because the US army and its Iraqi allies keep arresting commanders of the Mahdi Army. The Bush administration attitude has been, that's not a truce, that's an opportunity to make a bust.

Al-Zaman reports in Arabic that the Sadr Movement is demanding that recently arrested members of the Mahdi Army be released by the al-Maliki government. If their demands are not met, they say, they will launch a general strike. I suspect that the shelling of the Green Zone on Sunday was proffered as evidence that they really would be willing to take extreme actions if that would free the arrested Sadrists.

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